Have you ever wondered what applications on your PC are listening to your microphone? A new feature in Windows 10 has made it easier to control and works with both Microsoft applications and third-party applications.
How to see which applications are using the microphone in Windows 10
If an application is using your microphone, you will see a microphone icon in the notification area, also known as the system tray. It is black if you are using the Windows 10 light theme, and white if you are using the dark theme of Windows 10.
Hover over the icon, and Windows will tell you which application is currently using your microphone. If more than one application is currently using your microphone, Windows will show you how many applications are using your microphone.
If you do not see the microphone icon, check the floating menu by clicking the up arrow to the left of its notification icons. If the microphone icon is hidden and you want to make it visible on your taskbar, you can drag and drop it into the notification area of the taskbar.
This icon only appears when an application is using or listening to your microphone. If you do not see it, no apps are using your microphone now.
If multiple applications are using your microphone and you want to know what they are, click the icon. It will take you to the Settings> Privacy> Microphone window. Scroll through the list and look for apps with the text “Currently in use” in red. Note that there are two lists here a list of “Microsoft Store applications” and one of the traditional “desktop applications.” Be sure to examine each list.
How to see which applications have previously used your microphone
Even though no application is using the microphone now, and the icon does not appear, you can check which applications are using the microphone. Go to Settings> Privacy> Microphone .
Scroll through the list of applications that are allowed to access your microphone, and search each of them for a date and time in “Allowing desktop applications to access your microphone.” There, you’ll see which apps have been using your microphone lately in “last access,” meaning Windows will tell you the exact date and time your microphone was last accessed by the app.
The Settings> Privacy> Camera panel also shows when applications have last accessed your computer’s webcam hardware. However, there is no similar notification icon for webcam access.
Do not rely on desktop applications
As Microsoft explains, applications can interact directly with a microphone or webcam hardware, and bypass privacy and monitoring control in Windows 10.
In other words, it is possible that an application on your computer can access your microphone or webcam, but it does not appear in this list. An application may be accessing the hardware of your microphone at a low level, and the microphone icon may not appear.
Windows should detect access to the microphone for the vast majority of desktop applications. The specially crafted RAT malware, however, could prevent detection. A Remote Access Trojan (RAT) is a type of malware that allows hackers to monitor and control your computer or network.
In most cases, RATs are used as spyware. Hackers can use RATs to discreetly activate a computer’s webcam or microphone. The idea is to spy on the victim and obtain confidential information.
If you want to avoid Malware RAT, do not download files from sources you can not trust. You should not open e-mail attachments from strangers (or potential employers), should not download games or software from web sites, and should not download torrents files from the source that is unreliable. Keep your browser and operating system up to date, also with security patches.
Another key tip to avoid RAT infection is to activate your antivirus software. Windows Defender is included on your PC, but if you feel the need for extra security, you can download better antivirus software.
Use antivirus to get rid of RATs
There is a high chance that your computer is not infected by a RAT. If you have not noticed any strange activity on your computer or had your identity stolen recently, then you are probably safe. But it does not hurt to scan your antivirus from time to time.
As most hackers use known RATs (instead of developing their own), antivirus software is the best (and easiest) way to find and remove RATs from your computer.
If you run an antivirus but still are paranoid that there is a RAT on your PC, you can format your computer. This is a drastic measure, but it is 100% effective. And yes, there is a chance the antivirus will not detect a RAT, especially if it is new. But we remember that this risk is very low.
If you need help, have doubts or concerns, do not hesitate to leave a comment in the comment box below and we will try to help you as soon as possible!